The Virginia Tech signed three defensive ends in their 2017 class in Tyjuan Garbutt, Nathan Proctor, and Zion DeBose along with versatile DL Robert Porcher IV who could play DE or DT for the Hokies. Bringing in that large of a defensive end class has led the Hokies to look to take a much smaller DE class in 2018 with Eli Adams being VT's only DE commit, and the Hokies only looking to add another DE if it's five-star DE KJ Henry.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech likely will look to bring in at least a pair of DEs in 2019 with VT having plenty of highly-rated targets already including top in-state target Brandon Smith, elite NC DE Savion Jackson, and top D.C. DE Joseph Wete.
KJ Henry: The Only DE Target Left on the Board In 2018
Virginia Tech haonly has s only one defensive end commit from South Carolina three-star recruit Eli Adams, but are satisfied with that unless they can also get five-star KJ Henry, who they are vigorously pursuing given his elite talent.
Adams is undersized for a DE at around 5'11'-6'0'' tall but despite not being the biggest guy, Adams is a playmaker that has great speed and profiles well as a edge rusher while also being quite "twitchy" and able to move quickly around the line to fill holes and get into the backfield. Adams profiles as an edge rusher and while he is effective as a pass rusher, he is a complete defensive end that can makes things happen as a run stuffer and should be a productive player in Blacksburg.
Before Adams committed to the Hokies on June 10th, there hadn't been much talk surrounding the pair other than how he was visiting the Hokies with his commitment being a pleasant surprise to most other than those in the know on the Hokies' staff. VT beat out a solid group of schools that had offered Adams including in-state South Carolina, Kansas State, Maryland, and NC State.
While Adams was a good get that the Hokies are comfortable with as their only DE commit, VT still would love to add elite five-star DE KJ Henry.
On paper, most would expect that the battle for KJ Henry would be between Alabama and Clemson with Georgia as a sleeper and while those 3 schools are definitely major players (along with South Carolina), VT is also a serious contender and arguably one of the favorites alongside Alabama and Clemson with Henry telling SEC Country's Chris Kirschner
that Virginia Tech is recruiting him the hardest.
Henry also had some high praise for the Hokies in his comments to Kirschner.
“Virginia Tech,” Henry said of the school who is on him the hardest. “They’re a much smaller school compared to Alabama and Clemson, but I like them. They’re doing the right things. They’re close to home. They have good relationships with my parents. The coaches have shown lots of love.” - KJ Henry to SEC Country's Chris Kirschner
These comments are definitely encouraging for the Hokies' hopes as they are building great relationships with Henry and his family while VT's hard push for him is not going unnoticed. The Hokies also have the advantage of being only a little over 2 hours from his hometown of Clemmons, NC while Clemson is a little farther away and Alabama is obviously a significant distance farther than either VT or Clemson.
Obviously, the Hokies have a significant amount of work as any recruiting battle against Alabama or Clemson will be a huge challenge especially with Henry being an out-of-state recruit. However, Henry is decent friends with some other VT commits including four-star WR Tre Turner and those connections can only help the Hokies' hopes in their pursuit of Henry.
While Alabama and Clemson are definitely the favorites for Henry, Virginia Tech is making a huge effort to try to get the elite five-star DE and its showing and working with VT being a serious contender to land one of the consensus top 15 recruits in America.
VT's 2019 DE Board is Full of Elite DEs
After what will be a smaller DE class in 2018, VT will take a slightly larger DE class in 2019 with it being likely that VT looks to add 2 defensive ends with the possibility of a third if it's another elite guy, similar to how they are comfortable with one commit this class but are still pushing for five-star KJ Henry.
First, the big in-state name to know is four-star Brandon Smith out of Louisa High School. Virginia Tech is just one part of Smith's impressive offer list that also includes Ohio State, Florida State, Georgia, Penn State, Tennessee, Louisville, South Carolina, North Carolina, Duke, Maryland, NC State, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wake Forest, and Temple.
Smith is a name to watch as while Vance Vice is listed as the primary recruiter, Bud Foster is likely to take a large role in this recruitment not only due to Smith being one of VT's top defensive targets, but also with Smith being on the fringe of the Fredericksburg area where he is VT's recruiter. The Hokies have the advantage of being the in-state power that offered before any out-of-state school did and while this will definitely be a battle, VT definitely should be one of the top contenders.
Four-star Washington D.C. DE Joseph Wete told us back in April that Virginia Tech and Wisconsin were his two favorites but since then, Wete's offer list has grown to include more big time programs including Michigan, Penn State, and West Virginia with Smith also having offers from Duke, Maryland, NC State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and Wake Forest.
Wete has been quiet recently, but Virginia Tech was one of the first to offer the talented DE out of D.C. powerhouse Gonzaga and are likely to be a serious contender for him.
Savion Jackson is another one of the Hokies' talented DE targets as the Clayton, NC recruit is ranked 15th in the Class of 2019 by 247 Sports while Jackson also has a solid offer list that includes the Hokies, Penn State, South Carolina, North Carolina, Duke, NC State, Pittsburgh, and East Carolina. Jackson is from right in NC State's backyard and while schools like NC State, Duke, and UNC have a home turf advantage; bigger schools like Virginia Tech and South Carolina should also be major players though Jackson's recruitment is likely to continue to blow up.
Raymond Cutts isn't as high-profile of a target as the three guys listed above but the Hokies are currently the on-paper favorite for him with VT having been his first offer back in January followed by offers from Syracuse, FAU, and Cincinnati in early May.
Virginia Tech has had plenty of success in the Orlando area recently with a commitment from Orlando CB Braxton Clark in 2018 along with signing DL Robert Porcher IV in the 2017 class out of the Orlando area. Cutts is flying under-the-radar among the Hokies' 2019 DE targets but with him being quite the early offer back in late January, VT appears to be quite high on him with it likely being only a matter of time before he receives more power 5 offers.
Virginia Tech is set at DE in 2018 unless they can get one of the top 15 recruits in America, KJ Henry. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech is in contention for a few of the top defensive ends in the 2019 class, but the Hokies still have tons of work ahead for both Henry and their 2019 DE targets.
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